Alex Iafallo spoils Coyote’s homecoming with hat trick for Kings in 3-2 win

Goalie Adin Hill got the start Thursday night against Los Angeles photography

Goalie Adin Hill got the start Thursday night against Los Angeles

Ole Olafson, Reporter

The Arizona Coyotes returned to home ice on Thursday night, for the first time since beating San Jose 6-3 on Jan. 14.  After that win, the team was in first place in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference and looking forward to the All-Star break.

Fast-forward past two road losses before the break, 10 days off, a win by the Rick Tocchet, coached, Pacific Division All-Stars and a 2-4 loss at Anaheim in their first game back and those same Coyotes suddenly find themselves fighting to maintain the second wild-card spot.

Arizona had the good fortune of hosting the last-place Los Angeles Kings in their first game back at Gila River Arena.  Planned or not, backup goalie Adin Hill got the start Thursday night after Antti Raanta let in four goals on 32 shots, in their loss to the Ducks, the night before.

The Kings didn’t waste much time after the opening face off.  Winger, Alex Iafallo cranked a one timer past Hill from the top of the circle, 8:37 into the opening period.  Iafallo’s goal, assisted by Ben Hutton and Dustin Brown wound up being the only goal of the period.

Hill’s first big test of the second period came early, when Austin Wagner was awarded a penalty shot but missed the net.

Later in the period, Nick Schmaltz broke the ice for Arizona at 11:22, when his shot from the circle found its way through traffic and off the stick-side post, past L.A. goalie Jack Campbell.

Arizona’s Christian Dvorak gave the Coyotes the lead with less than a minute to go in the period when he chipped in a Taylor Hall rebound for his 14th goal of the season.

Late in the third period, just as it started to seem like a win might be imminent, Iafallo struck a second time, blasting a high shot into the top corner of the Coyote’s goal with less than 3:00 left in the game.

Overtime had just begun when L.A. gained control of the puck and Iafallo scored his first career hat trick to secure the extra point for the Kings.

The Coyotes will continue their four game home stand on Saturday night, when they face Chicago Blackhawks at 6 p.m.